Officer Todd Burkett retired from the Urbana Police Division this week after more than two decades of service to the community.
The division held a retirement reception in honor of Burkett’s career on Thursday, which was his last day on the job.
“During the retirement reception, the large turnout of people coming to say thanks to Todd speaks volumes,” Urbana Police Chief Matt Lingrell stated on Thursday. “On behalf of the Urbana Police Division, both past and present, it is my honor and privilege to say thank you to Officer Todd Burkett, for a career well done.”
A native of Lewisburg, Burkett graduated from Tri-County North High School in 1987. He proceeded to enlist in the United States Navy where he would serve for six years including being deployed overseas three times.
Following his time in the Navy, Burkett joined the division on July 5, 1994. At that time, Burkett was assigned to Lingrell’s shift.
Lingrell stated Burkett was always eager to learn all facets of policing and was great at developing new friends and associates throughout the community which served him well throughout his career.
“He had a special trait of being one of the most thorough officers in his documenting and reporting on a case investigation,” Lingrell stated. “He was also very good at identifying, documenting and collecting physical evidence.”
Lingrell recalled early in Burkett’s career when they worked on his first search warrant together in a sexual assault case.
“From this early experience, Todd became very proficient at filing for court ordered search warrants, with little to no help from a supervisor,” Lingrell stated.
Burkett used the city’s tuition reimbursement program to obtain a Bachelor of Science Degree from Urbana University in 2001.
Involvement in criminal investigations
Throughout his time with the division, Burkett was involved in helping on numerous criminal cases.
Two cases he referenced included being the lead investigator on the 2007 rape case of Joseph Rollins which resulted in a 30 years to life plus eight more years prison sentence in addition to convictions in other counties and also working on last year’s kidnapping case involving Edith Corfman who was sentenced to nine years and six months in prison.
Burkett was also the first officer on the scene on the morning of the Jessica Rae Sacco homicide in March 2012.
“The landlord drove up while I was running radar on West Light Street and said ‘I think one of my tenants is dead in her bathtub,’” Burkett recalled. “That was kind of a shocker.”
Lingrell stated Burkett was responsible for protecting the scene and then assisting Urbana officers and agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations as they processed the scene late into the night. For his actions and involvement with the investigation, Burkett received the American Police Hall of Fame – Criminal Investigation Award.
Burkett has also received numerous other commendations throughout his career.
“I want Todd to know that it’s the journey he’s traveled that is his true reward for his last 22 years serving with us at the Urbana Police Division,” Lingrell stated. “Serving others is a great part of life and Todd will never know how many folks, young and old alike, he made a moment in their life better due to a challenge or stressful moment the person was facing.”
Lingrell also credited Burkett’s selflessness in helping the division. Less than a week before his retirement, Burkett was part of a team of officers that served two drug-related search warrants as police raided two homes in Urbana.
On the last raid of the day, Lingrell stated the supervisor asked Burkett if he wanted to take a less dangerous part in the raid.
“Without hesitation, Todd responded that he wanted to be the primary – the first officer in the door after it’s forced open with a battering ram,” Lingrell stated. “This is the most dangerous part of the team. That is the Todd we all know and appreciate.”
In addition to his daily patrol assignment, Burkett was chosen or volunteered to take on other duties for the division. These additional assignments included being the property/evidence room manager for a few years starting in 2000, being a field training officer starting in 2000 and being the fleet manager since 2008.
As the fleet manager, Burkett was responsible for maintenance on police vehicles.
“I’m kind of proud of the fact that we were one of the first agencies to go back to black and white cruisers,” Burkett said. “I had a hand in that design with the Dodges (Chargers) when we first purchased them.”
Speaking on people who have been instrumental in his career, Burkett said every officer he has worked with has helped him through a difficult situation or he has helped them through a difficult situation.
He also thanked his family including his wife, Suzanne, his parents and his three sons Timothy, Douglas and Garret for their support throughout his career.
New career field
Moving forward, Burkett is preparing to be a victims advocate with Project Woman in Clark County. Project Woman is an agency aimed at ending domestic violence and sexual assault by providing services and programs to protect, educate and empower victims.
Burkett said he is looking forward to still being able to help people even though he will not be in uniform anymore.
“I still like that contact, I still like to think that I’m making a difference in people’s lives,” Burkett said.
Burkett said the biggest thing he took away from working in law enforcement that will help in his new job is how to empathize with victims in order to serve them.
“We’re not just police officers – we’re members of the community,” Burkett said. “We’re the first line when it comes to a victim of crime and how we handle and how we approach that victim and the demeanor that we keep during that investigation can have such a serious bearing on the outcome. The one thing I look at with this new role is I want to be able to empower victims in these situations.”
Looking back on his career in Urbana, Burkett said he is proud of what the division has accomplished.
“I take a lot of pride in the guys that I work with,” Burkett said. “I think we’ve got some of the best trained and best educated officers in the area. I would put us against anybody and I think the level of service that we provide to this community is second to none.”
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.